Policy: Entitlements

Two reasons it matters that Obama lied about keeping your insurance

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Beltway Confidential,White House,Timothy P. Carney,Barack Obama,Obamacare,President,Health and Human Services,Health Care,Entitlements

Some politicos, who don't really consider the truth value of a statement before saying it, are insisting Obama spoke the truth when he said, "If you like your health plan you can keep it, period." (See Harry Reid and [no relation] Jay Carney.)

Honest liberals acknowledge that Obama shouldn't have said that. Insofar as presidents shouldn't blatantly and repeatedly lie, I agree. But one liberal/conservative dividing line is this: Does it really matter that Obama was so misleading?

For instance, Jeff Spross of the Center for American Progress asks: "Please tell me, in practical terms, what I should take away from Obama breaking his 'if you like your HC you can keep it' promise?"

Here are some practical takeaways:

1) Never trust Obama again.

We shouldn't believe something that President Obama believes just because he says it. Or, as liberal Washington Post blogger Ezra Klein might put it, this administration "isn’t adhering to the minimum standards required for a real policy conversation. ..."

Knowing your president is so willing to repeatedly and blatantly mislead whenever it serves his political advantage ought to alter the way you conduct politics. For instance, never pass a law whose good implementation requires him to keep a promise or tell the truth — say an immigration bill.

Recall, this isn't Obama's first all-out assault on the truth. See his talk on lobbyists, on Libya, on taxes, and most of his campaign's rhetoric on auto bailouts and contraception (I covered those topics in this blog post and this column.)

2) Loosen the rules that are outlawing insurance plans

Insurance plans that people like are being cancelled because Obama thinks these plans aren't good enough. This viewpoint is probably valid in some cases. Some plans have arcane exceptions or rules that no normal consumer can be expected to understand that end up harming consumers.

But why should it be illegal for me to buy a plan that doesn't cover mental health or contraception? Why should it be illegal for my neighbors to buy a plan that doesn't cover maternity or prescription drugs? Why should a $5,000-in-network out-of-pocket maximum combined with a $10,000 out-of-network max be outlawed.

Loosening these rules would stem the tide of cancelled plans.

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